138. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Sometimes I read a book and need a vacation to recover from the greatness of all the emotions I go through. Beartown by Fredik Backman just hit me right in the middle of my heart and Backman literally yo-yoed with emotions (if that even is a thing).

I’m smiling while writing this review because I always feel so full after reading his books. They’re like a warm hug but in the form of words.

However, Beartown was a very dark and serious story he has ever written in my opinion and I have read quite a few of his book such as:

If you want to read the review on anyone of them, just click the title. Already linked them.

Coming back to Beartown like I was saying, this story was very hard-hitting in the sense that he portrayed a serious crime/act of violence: rape in a story.

“For the perpetrator, rape lasts just a matter of minutes. For the victim, it never stops.”

Although his stories are always centred around community and the sense of togetherness the people around you can exude. Beartown like the title suggests is a story of a town that is obsessed with hockey.

“Difficult questions, simple answers. What is a community?

It is the sum total of our choices.”

Once famous for having the second best junior division team in the country, the town has slowly lost its popularity and inhabitants. With the economy going down and along with jobs becoming scarce the people don’t have much to look forward to.

“If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

But hockey is their heart and soul without a doubt and it has given them a hope of becoming a great town again in the form of a talented player: Kevin.

“There are two things that are particularly good at reminding us how old we are: children and sports.”

Only seventeen and playing for the Junior team, it seems like the future of Beartown literally rests on his shoulders. If they win the upcoming match not only is his future as a hockey player secured for life, but the town will get a new hockey academy, a new conference centre, and more employment.

“The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple.”

Until, a terrible event occurs that literally divides the town in half.

Here we get to meet the Andersons consisting of: Peter, Kira and their two kids: Maya and Leo.

“We love winners, even though they’re very rarely particularly likeable people. They’re almost always obsessive and selfish and inconsiderate. That doesn’t matter. We forgive them. We like them while they’re winning.”

All four of them get entangled in the aftermath of the terrible event, and their patience, their strength, their fears but most of all their loyalty is not only tested, but also questioned.

“She wants to point out how all the old men in this town praise them for “fighting” and “not backing down,” but not one single person tells them that when a girl says no, it means NO. And the problem with this town is not only that a boy raped a girl, but that everyone is pretending that he DIDN’T do it. So now all the other boys will think that what he did was okay. Because no one cares.”

I’ll be honest, I had the same expectations of feeling uplifted, joyful and hopeful, like the rest of Backman’s books leave you. But this one had a lot more sobriety and fear involved as well.

The emotions that you go through while reading Beartown is like the sinusoidal wave; it goes up and down, and you can never guess what will come next.

Also, never in my life would I feel the anxiety and excitement of reading about hockey, let alone watching it. It is the national sport of my country yet I don’t even know the basics about the game.

Only Backman can get your heart racing while describing a hockey match and transport you to the stands as a spectator. But I won’t just limit the review to hockey, the rape incident mentioned – although wasn’t described in graphic detail – still created shock and disbelief when I read it.

I felt violated while reading about the horrific aftermath the character went through and having to live with it each day, and see the town divided in a he-said-she-said debate.

This book has a sequel to it called Us Against You, which I want to read but after sometime, as digesting the story in itself is a huge task.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 5.0 /5.0
  1. Favorite quote: “Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone.”
  2. Reader level: fairly easy to understand. Some hockey terms may need looking up.
  3. Should you read: It is Backman we’re talking about. Of course you should!
  4. Would I read it again: Out of all his books, this may be the last book that I re-read.

Till next time,

-Sarah

 

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